Muhamed Besic is the likely replacement for Gareth Barry in a line-up that probably won't feature many changes from the win over Chelsea
With teetering Arsenal the visitors to Goodison Park this weekend, Everton head into the final phase of 2016-17, the final 10-game stretch that Roberto Martinez’s rhetoric has historically highlighted as the period when his teams reach their peak. Not for the first time this term, though, the question on Evertonian lips is can the Blues translate an impressive victory in the FA Cup into a consistent run of victories in the Premier League?
The win over Manchester City at Goodison in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals was followed by two decent results away from home (a goalless draw back at the Etihad and the 3-3 at Stamford Bridge) but any momentum from those games was checked by a 2-1 home defeat by Swansea City.
Amends were made at Bournemouth in the FA Cup Fifth Round for another farcical 3-3 draw back in November which also helped ease the frustration of the loss to West Brom the week before, but while Martinez's men won at Aston Villa when they resumed Premier League duties, they then threw away a 2-0 lead to West Ham, losing in the worst way possible to a last minute winner.
With the possible exception of when they faced Leicester City, faced with the assignment of facing one of the strongest teams in the top flight at home, Everton have found a level of determination, discipline and organisation that has been elusive against the so-called lesser sides where they have remained too cavalier and open when they should instead have been protecting a lead.
Despite Arsenal's recent faltering form, the hope is that the visit of Arsene Wenger's side this weekend will elicit the same kind of performance from the Blues as the one that eventually prevailed against Chelsea last Saturday.
Certainly, the Gunners will be as vulnerable psychologically than at any other stage of the campaign. Just one victory (the cup replay at Championship side Hull City) in all competitions since they beat leaders Leicester in the League on Valentine's Day has seen the one-time title favourites exit the FA Cup, the Champions League and slip 11 points off the top of the table, albeit with a game in hand.
That has ratcheted up the pressure on Wenger whose failings this term have coincided with the 20th anniversary of his assumption of the Arsenal hot-seat, leading many to wonder if it was time the North London giants seek fresh blood and new ideas.
Already without the likes of Petr Cech (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (Achilles), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Wenger won't relish having to make the trip to Merseyside for the lunchtime kick-off so soon after travelling back to Barcelona, and that will hopefully play into the hands of Martinez who has an almost fully-fit squad from which to choose.
Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas will be suspended following their respective red cards but there are ready-made replacements in the form of Muhamed Besic and Tom Cleverley, the latter having played in midfield in the Belgian's absence in the cup win last weekend.
Gerard Deulofeu, a potential alternative to Mirallas, will be champing at the bit to play having not started a game since the end of January but the strength of the opponents will almost certainly see the manager opt for as few changes as possible. That, combined with Bryan Oviedo being a a slight doubt because of his recent chest infection, should see Leighton Baines and Ramiro Funes Mori continue in defence and Aaron Lennon retain the wide-right berth in which he has been so effective for the past six weeks.
Traditionally a fixture to be dreaded under his predecessor, Everton have done well when hosting Arsenal under Roberto Martinez. The rampant 3-0 victory over them in his first season ever so briefly opened up the possibility of pipping the Gunners to fourth place 2013-14 and it was a result that they were on course to repeat at the beginning of last season but they let slip a 2-0 lead late in the game and had to be content with a draw.
Even at the Emirates, the Blues under Martinez have been well-matched with Wenger’s passing and possession-biased side so the conditions could be right for them to pile on the misery in North London if they can keep it tight at the back, exploit the uncertainty in Arsenal’s back line and, most importantly, get the ball to Romelu Lukaku in dangerous areas.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Predicted line-up: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, McCarthy, Besic, Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku
Full coverage: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (70)
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1 Posted 17/03/2016 at 22:44:12
Arsene and Arsenal are in a "Stonehurst" situation according to the media.
Just enjoy your football and everything will be cool.
2 Posted 17/03/2016 at 22:59:14
I like Ozil and Sanchez but they're the type who do best along side superstars and aren't as effective alongside mediocre players so they don't worry me greatly.
Lukaku is worlds above Giroud, while ex Spur Lennon and Geri have both been known to terrorize these mentally fragile Gunners.
4 Posted 17/03/2016 at 23:58:52
5 Posted 18/03/2016 at 00:33:34
I would also like to see Deulofeu get some game time, as I think we will need his creativity in this last stage.
Though, at this moment, chances are that Cleverley will take the left flank, while Besic replaces Barry in the middle.
Unless, Martinez sees that he can rest McCarthy, and then have a middle axis of Cleverley and Besic. That will give Deulofeu a chance to come onto the flanks.
6 Posted 18/03/2016 at 02:03:04
It seems more likely that the Martinez approach to rotation is to leave players in form in the team and then give them an extended break. Cut down the number of games played.
So we should expect to start seeing Del in the run in?
7 Posted 18/03/2016 at 02:18:40
And he wasn't "quite skillful", he was bloody skillful. I recall one cross-field volleyed pass (circa 50 yards) out to Trevor Steven on the right wing who then steamed-in to blast it past Sunderland's keeper in a 4-1 win at Goodison, the Saturday before our midweek ECWC Semi Final away at Bayern (away/first leg).
8 Posted 18/03/2016 at 02:51:19
Actually, it's a pity Stones cannot be trusted at centre back because Funes Mori was a DM when he joined River Plate and can sense danger pretty quickly. He can also spread forward passes with both feet.
Anyway, whatever the line-up, we're strong enough to beat Wenger's boys but Giroud always gives us trouble and Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott and Welbeck will require us to show speed, power and full concentration.
9 Posted 18/03/2016 at 02:52:57
But what I admire the most in him, is that he seems to have added the complete skill set of a creative midfielder to his exisiting game of a tackling midfielder, almost out of the blue this season. Something like 80% of what Barkley is capable of combined with 90% of what Barry is capable of, all in one player.
10 Posted 18/03/2016 at 03:06:42
Cleverley, Osman and even Mirallas are not natural wingers IMO, although they have been deployed in that area by Bobby. In the present squad, the only natural left wingers are Pienaar and Oviedo.
11 Posted 18/03/2016 at 03:12:35
12 Posted 18/03/2016 at 05:37:55
The two games at Wembley are the only "must win" games left for us.
All that said, I want the squad to win this, and every other game, this season. The higher we finish, the more TV money we collect. In the league, that's all we have to play for.
13 Posted 18/03/2016 at 06:19:43
I didn't know that Funes Mori played defensive midfield at River Plate. Maybe if Stones develops into a good defender, he would be an option in that position for when Barry calls it a day. I like him at centre-half, a good partnership being formed there between him and Jags.
Onto the Arsenal game. We should play our starting 11 for the semi-final as much as possible over the games coming up before the semi-final. I think the team you have predicted above will be the semi-final side,apart from Barry for Besic.
14 Posted 18/03/2016 at 06:55:22
Just like Wigan did when they got relegated... One hell of a peak they haven't recovered from yet!!!
15 Posted 18/03/2016 at 07:35:02
Apart from injuries, they will desperately need points and the crowd should be up for it, both of which will play into our hands.
16 Posted 18/03/2016 at 07:52:02
As great as the Chelsea match was last week it's back to the league which has left us all flattering to deceive all too often.
There's no getting away from our horrendous home form and tomorrow against a team where I can count on one hand the amount times I can recall beating them at Goodison in the last 25 years.
Arsenal really are the ultimate bogey team for us.
17 Posted 18/03/2016 at 07:59:23
I'm still waiting for the phenomenal second half of the season. Or was it last third? Or ten games now?
18 Posted 18/03/2016 at 08:00:04
19 Posted 18/03/2016 at 08:09:45
I think Besic could eventually become our own Roy Keane type player.
I don't see anything of Tim Cahill in him I'm afraid, I'm not saying he won't add three or four goals a season to his game, he could do, but Cahill was completely dynamic in both penalty box and at his best he was so athletic, seldom few players could have scored that outrageous scissor kick at Chelsea that Tim got.
Cahill regularly got 9 goals a season and once hit 12, I don't see Besic being that type of player.
Besic gets about the pitch well and is the best tackler to add bite to our team but expecting him to change his game that dramatically is probably too much.
One thing what I find noticeable these days about Everton compared to the Cahill day's is that you rarely see any of our midfielders even challenge for headers, let alone scoring from them.
It's a part of our game which we seem to have really erased over the last few years.
20 Posted 18/03/2016 at 08:17:39
21 Posted 18/03/2016 at 08:59:48
22 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:01:12
Will be great to see Besic get some game time. He'll be well up for it and although Barry has been excellent, his red card could be a blessing in the form of some much needed rest.
As for this game not meaning anything, I disagree. We need to put a strong run of results together. It'll boost confidence ahead of the semi-final and will show some of our 'stars' that it's worth still being here next season.
23 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:02:53
A draw is a nothing result, we have won just 1 of the last 9 home league games, we need to win and so do Arsenal so I don't expect a tight cautious game.
24 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:08:59
We need to play him more. He will be an important player for us.
25 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:50:12
26 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:55:32
27 Posted 18/03/2016 at 10:26:43
29 Posted 18/03/2016 at 10:55:58
30 Posted 18/03/2016 at 11:51:53
I'm not expecting him to be as good as Cahill was, it's more a case of he reminds me of the passion and fight that Tim had. We need that to show in players on the pitch.
If he can chip in with a few goals too, that would be great. Can you imagine him slamming one in at the Gwladys Street end? I'd love to see that...
31 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:00:56
While most the crowd at Goodison Park went home delighted, it seems that Moshiri wasn't fully convinced by Everton's performance.
“He wasn't happy with the 2-0 win” Martinez joked. “He wanted a 4 or 5-0 win, and you can already see that he standards are going to be very high!Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Good to see that our Farhad has exactly the same aims as us ToffeeWebbers then!
32 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:06:37
I would love to see both Besic and Deulofeu on the pitch and maybe give Niasse a go to see what he's made of at some time into the game. On paper, it looks good for a point or, perish the thought, another disaster... just hope I'm wrong.
34 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:41:48
35 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:46:35
Arsenal keep possession well but their usual passing game in the opponents half has fizzled in recent months but they still have very dangerous players who can burn you.
Everton can afford to be relaxed and patient whereas the Gooners have a lot of pressure on them to maintain their Champions League aspirations.
36 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:51:46
You might be right, but personally, if given the choice (right now) of an in-his-prime Cahill or (an i-h-p) Keane, I'd take Keane all day long.
I don't know if Besic is the (an) answer but, he certainly appears to be the closest we have right now to 'that type.'
The type with that inbuilt natural-leader gene, the type who can influence those around them to more effort, through force of personality, bloody-mindedness and (if needed) fear.
Finding such a player now seems almost impossible and in the same way as Arsenal never replaced Viera, Man Utd haven't come close to replacing Keane.
In fact I can't think of one player now who fits the role of natural captain material, decent player with a big mouth who doesn't allow concentration to slip.
Maybe Noble at West Ham Utd comes close and I always thought Nolan had 'the right stuff' (so to speak).
With where we are right now, I'd make Besic captain tomorrow and tell him 'let's see how you go you're the boss on the park'.
Or..something like that... type stuff.
37 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:55:31
39 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:05:39
40 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:07:49
And I agree that Bracewell had a horrific ankle injury that put him out for much of one to two seasons. What I meant was when he started getting fit again, he became injury prone, and never could string together too many games without incurring another injury.
Besides those raking passes, one other bit that stood out to me was how he was one on one with a keeper, and took it around him ever so coolly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlIgRVJukjM (against Norwich, 1984-85 season).
41 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:31:19
42 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:39:34
What I would like is a 6-0, but what probably could happen is a 0-0 (Nah... just kidding: 3-4.)
44 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:47:41
Given we have no pressure anymore on us in the league and the Chelsea result has pacified the massese somewhat, I think this game is now made for us to get a result. No pressure plus playing a side that won't sit back.
It's Everton though so we could just as easily win 2-0 or lose 3-0! League is over for us as it is so just hoping for a decent performance and result with no major injuries.
Heart says 2-1 to us, head says 2-2. Bet says we won't keep a clean sheet.
45 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:51:07
Funes Mori was a defensive midfielder when he joined River Plate academy where he was converted into a left-back / centre-back.
46 Posted 18/03/2016 at 15:52:01
It was a horrible tackle by Billy Whitehurst, an unskilled cowardly hatchet man, in the same mould as Kevin Nolan (remember his sneaky horrible tackle on Anichebe) if I'm not mistaken.
Bracewell was one of my favourite players, along with Reid and Sheedy. He had it all, skill and speed, and was only reaching his prime, and was in line for an England call-up at the time, but was never the same player again.
47 Posted 18/03/2016 at 15:52:54
They are centre backs, able to cover at full back as necessary, with different skill sets. Stones is a ball playing, Funes Mori is a no-nonsense defender.
Stones has had a temporary dip in form for the first time in his young career. There is no need at all to try and squeeze him into the team and in a position he has never played. He WILL have a mega career in his prime position at centre-back.
I'm incredulous if, as suggested in this thread, the England manager was/is considering John in some midfield role when he has so many other options that play that role as their bread-and-butter position.
Similarly, Funes Mori is an even poorer call to play as a defensive midfielder. Like Stones, he has never played a 1st class game as a midfielder.
No thank you, from me...
48 Posted 18/03/2016 at 15:57:29
But it's Clattenberg, isn't it.... so I'm just worried that we won't get the rub.
49 Posted 18/03/2016 at 15:58:10
50 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:03:41
53 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:11:36
54 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:12:16
The midfield four perfectly complimented each other. One of the best midfields I have seen in over 50 years of watching football.
55 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:17:36
Just got called up to the England squad (with Dier), funnily enough ...
56 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:20:54
57 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:28:58
58 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:32:28
On current form Stones should be nowhere near the England team. However, as Man City are rumoured to be interested, I'm sure he'll be on the plane come June.
59 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:36:49
60 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:40:08
Feeling a bit foolish and resentful that I have (in a very understated way) pointed out your post @ 49 was - what? - misinformed..?
61 Posted 18/03/2016 at 17:03:00
Similar issue with Rodwell who's evolved into a jack of all trades, master of none cause Moyes didn't trust him as a centre-back or develop his defensive positioning and instead stuck him as a square peg in a round hole. Mancini followed suit and now Big Sam is scratching his head with him.
62 Posted 18/03/2016 at 17:25:36
63 Posted 18/03/2016 at 19:38:17
64 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:06:14
John Stones was called up for England when he was a baby. Goodison was roaring its approval as he completely blanked out some of the most lethal strikers in the League, often doing it with piss taking ease.
The daft twat in charge fucks him about with his daft twat instructions....and, all of a sudden, he can't defend???
Maybe the world's top clubs want him for his wing wizardry... Maybe we turned down the biggest offer in the club's history, because Chelsea saw him as a striker?
"Cant defend"? I sometimes wonder what these "experts" are watching.
Never mind the quality... How far can he hoof it?
65 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:36:38
66 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:38:52
Eugene, it's a good point, especially considering we have so few leaders, but you don't have to wear the armband to act like a captain. I only ever really considered Ratcliffe our captain, when he went to pick up the cup, because during the game Peter Reid, always looked like Everton's leader to me.
67 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:45:39
68 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:46:48
If and when we lose this majestic player to another club in the Premier League, it will be a sad day in our history.... This lad is one of a kind!
69 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:57:59
As for the game, I'm a bit worried. Arsenal looked good against Barça even though they lost. Fast, one-touch attacking just like Arsenal can do better than any team in the league when they are on their game. I hate to say it but I'd take a draw right now. Hope I'm wrong.
70 Posted 18/03/2016 at 21:09:48
Remember one derby match at Anfield, and Southall was rushing to kick the ball. Reid was screaming and waving his hands at Big Nev, to keep hold of the ball. He saw Reid and stopped. Reid, pointed to the fullbacks, to tuck in, told everyone else where to go, and then gave his keeper a thumbs up, to kick the ball.
I loved Peter Reid, and actually thought I learned so much about football by just watching him. For a man that couldn't run, he was so fucking clever. What a privilege it was to watch that great team.
73 Posted 19/03/2016 at 07:05:51
74 Posted 19/03/2016 at 08:18:40
And we owe them big style for years of poor showings.
75 Posted 19/03/2016 at 09:42:46
And big Rom versus Mertesacker... that's a lip smacking prospect!
76 Posted 19/03/2016 at 09:55:43
77 Posted 19/03/2016 at 10:05:31
78 Posted 19/03/2016 at 10:10:41
I'd love to see Deulofeu out on the left wing. It would be a good experiment with regard to the up coming semi-final. Two supply lines from either flank would make very interesting viewing. Barkley just behind Rom and this attack would scare the Arse to Death.
It would of course need Deulofeu to track back to help Baines. A great game in prospect. 2 - 1 to the Blues with Besic on the score sheet.
79 Posted 19/03/2016 at 10:11:36
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